Thursday, May 14, 2009

Save Jamie Moyer

Frank Helps You Think It All Out is an unapologetic Jamie Moyer fan. Watching the old man get cuffed around recently is painful. He has been plenty bad.

The cries for Jamie to be replaced are certain to grow. Part and parcel of this is the Phillies have a replacement on hand, ready to go in J.A. Happ- who has pitched well in his opportunities this season. However, I’m inclined to keep Moyer in the rotation for now.

Haste makes waste, right? Replacing Moyer at this point is a pure panic move. The same people hollering the loudest now for his ouster were the same sort of people who wanted Chan Ho Park removed just a week-and-a-half ago. Had Charlie done that, you’d have no J.A. Happ move left now.

This isn’t like when Brett Myers went to the ‘pen two years ago. There the Phillies were faced with a similar bad situation- a lack of late inning relief pitching. But unlike here, they exhausted every option first. Myers wasn’t helping the rotation- so maybe he could help the ‘pen. It was an obvious move due to a lack of options- thus sane.

Moyer isn’t the same thing.

First, the Phillies are still over .500 in the games he’s started- which is all you expect on a 92 win team from the back of the rotation guys. Other than blowing out the ‘pen a bit, he hasn’t exactly hurt them yet.

Two, until Moyer actually does hurt the club tangibly, why weaken the bullpen? Happ has a role there- quality long relief on a team that has the firepower to take advantage of quality long relief. Fact: as long as the Phillies are .500 in Moyers’ starts, he is not hurting the team. Fact: moving Happ out of the bullpen right now hurts the relief corps. Let’s wait to move that quality arm out until JC Romero gets back or Moyer is a few games under even-steven at least.

Three- back to the Park decision. You have one in-house pitching move- and you want to use it now? The Phillies got 120 games left- games where another starter could get hurt or is ineffective. Moyer did win sixteen games last year, and fourteen the year before that. You got serious dollars guaranteed to this lefty through next year. Again- look at him as a fifth starter- you can’t give up on this experiment and his dollars and his potential twelve, thirteen win upside before you absolutely have to.

Fourth, there is no credible bullpen role for him. The Phillies carry twelve pitchers and use twelve pitchers.

That is not to say they should overthink this either. The Phillies have an open date next week, skip Moyer's turn. Push the decision ten to fifteen games down the road- knock another ten percent off the schedule before burning your hole card.

Surplus starting pitching never lasts. So don't be profligate in throwing away a credible story in Moyer. I would hold open that option on Happ as long as I could. I can almost guarantee the Phillies will face a bigger rotation crisis between now and Labor Day than a pair of shaky starts from a guy coming off sixteen wins. Moyer has kept them in enough games for the club to be over .500 in his starts. So let's let him stay there until he is a real problem- rather than an inconvenient one.

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